Friday, May 28, 2010
Lake Tanganyika Warms
I find the arguments trotted out here to be unconvincing. In fact the proxy measures the lakes productivity and we are arguing that the control variable is temperature. A far more important variable in the twentieth century must be local population which has steadily risen and surely surpasses anything over the past 1500 years.
The information is valuable but the causation argument is at best specious. Throw that away and we have an increasing impact of human development inducing productivity changes and that is hardly a surprise. This looks like an international grant application written before Climategate and dreams of international funding to manage so called global warming.
It is also a reminder of the extraordinary productivity of lakes in the tropics.
Actually this reminds me that artificially inducing inversion is an excellent strategy for optimizing the productivity of these lakes. It would also be far more practical to do just that here than on the open ocean.
The idea is to induce the deep nutrient rich water to rise to the surface and blend with surface waters. An artificial tube of neutral buoyancy can make that happen and once the flow is established, it should be self sustaining provided the tube is large enough to provide little friction or resistance to the flow.
In this way the surface water productivity and volume can be strongly increased. Perhaps air can also be injected into the base of these columns to assist in increasing the oxygen content of the lake.
20th-Century Warming In
Lake Tanganyika Is Unprecedented
by Staff Writers
Lake Tanganyika's surface waters are currently warmer than at any time in the previous 1,500 years, a
researcher and his colleagues report online in Nature Geoscience. University of Arizona
The rise in temperature during the 20th century is driving a decline in the productivity of the lake, which hosts the second-largest inland fishery in
"People throughout south-central Africa depend on the fish from
Lake Tanganyika as a crucial source of protein," said study co-author Andrew S. Cohen, a UA professor of geosciences. "This resource is likely threatened by the lake's unprecedented warming since the late 19th century and the associated loss of lake productivity."
This is the first detailed record of temperature and its impacts on a tropical African ecosystem that allows scientists to compare the last 100 years with the previous 1,400 years, Cohen said.
The team attributes the lake's increased temperature and the decreased productivity during the 20th century to human-caused global warming.
"We've got a global phenomenon driving something local that has a huge potential impact on the people that live in the region and on the animals that live in the lake," he said.
The annual catch of the Lake Tanganyika fishery is estimated at about 198,000 tons per year, more than 20 times greater than the
U.S. commercial fishery in the Great Lakes, he said. The nations of Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo border the lake, which is the longest lake in the world and the second deepest.
The surface waters of
Lake Tanganyika are the most biologically productive part of the lake. For the 1,400 years before 1900, those waters were no warmer than 75.7 F (24.3 degrees C). Since 1900, the lake's surface waters warmed 3 degrees F, reaching 78.8 degrees F (26 degrees C) in 2003, the date of the researchers' last measurement.
The researchers used sediment cores from the lake bed to reconstruct the 1,500-year history of the lake. The scientists analyzed the cores for chemicals produced by microbes and left in the sediments to determine the lake's past temperature and productivity.
Because sediment is deposited in the lake in annual layers, the cores provide a detailed record of
Lake Tanganyika's past temperatures and productivity and of the regional wildfires.
The instrument record of lake temperatures from the 20th century agrees with the temperature analyses from the cores, Cohen said.
The cores were extracted as part of the UA's Nyanza Project, a research training program that brought together
and African scientists and students to study tropical lakes. The National Science Foundation funded the project. U.S.
"A big part of our mandate for the Nyanza Project was looking at the interconnectivity between climate, human activity, resources and biodiversity," said Cohen, who directed the multi-year project.
During the region's windy season, the winds make the lake's surface waters slosh back and forth, mixing some of the deep water with the upper layers. This annual mixing resupplies the lake's food web with nutrients and drives the lake's productivity cycle, Cohen said.
Lake Tanganyika warms, the upper waters of the lake become less dense. Therefore, stronger winds are required to churn the lake waters enough to mix the deeper waters with the upper layer. As a result, the upper layers of the lake are becoming increasingly nutrient-poor, reducing the lake's productivity.
In addition, warmer water contains less dissolved oxygen, reducing the quality of the habitat for some fish species.
Other lakes in Africa are showing similar effects to those the team found in
Lake Tanganyika, he said.
The finding has implications for lakes in more temperate climates.
"Increasingly, lakes in the
are warming and they're behaving more like these African lakes," Cohen said. "There's a potential for learning a lot about where we're going by seeing where those lakes already are." U.S.